A conversation about MLB, on the field, off the field.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

From the Basement Feb 18 07

Murray Chass reminds us that there is a new U.S. Attorney atop the Grand Jury investigation into Barry. The new guy will have to decide whether to continue efforts to indict Bonds or drop it and move on..

How loyal is Greg Anderson to Barry Bonds? He is presently in jail for a second time for refusing to testify to the grand jury about Barry. He was incarcerated November 20 and earlier last year was jailed for 57 days.

Murray Chass asked Anderson's lawyer, Mark Geragos, about speculation that Barry will look after Anderson financially for refusing to testify and going to jail. The lawyer's response; “There’s no truth to that,” Well, what else is he to say?

I am so sick of reading that it has yet to be proven definitively that Bonds is / was juiced. BS. My point is, yeah, get in line. Everyone, fans, reporters, players, owners, agents, PA, has known for years. What is the source of all this contrived outrage?

Of course Bud Selig is saying nothing about MLB's official plans ( if any ) for #756. He could still get lucky, by which I mean, indictment or injury.

Keith Foulke announced his retirment. He was never the same after the Red Sox won the 04 World Series. He allowed himself to be abused that postseason and it paid off in the championship but you have to wonder if it cost him the balance of his career.

The Nationals signed Ronnie Belliard to a minor league deal. I will be shocked if this doesn't result in Christian Guzman going to the bench ( or released ) and Felipe Lopez moving to short. It's not a long term solution for the Nats, Lopez is better at second.

Jim Bowden is signing a lot of veteran free agents recently. In addition to Belliard, earlier in the week he signed Dimitri Young & Tony Batista. One of the reasons behind the signings is his hope that he can deal them at the trade deadline for prospects. The Nationals system is awful due to years of neglect from the league. I'm not criticizing the league, there was no motive ( i.e. money ) for any of the owners to plough one more dime into the Expos / Nats than was absolutely necessary while they waited for someone to build them a stadium for free.

The Pirates bad luck with picking Starting Pitchers in the First Round continues. In 00, 01 & 02 the Pirates picked in the first round, Sean Burnett, John Van Benschoten & Bryan Bullington. All three have had plenty of injury trouble. 06 first rounder, RH Brad Lincoln, is now hurt. I don't think the Pirates should be criticized, predicting the health of pitchers is a fools game.

There is a guest column @ http://www.bizofbaseball.com/ from Feb 14 written by Wayne G. McDonnell Jr. Mr. McDonnell is well qualified to write about the baseball business, he has worked for MSG as an accountant & analyst as well as being an Asst Professor of sports management at NYU. He is very crtical of the record free agent spending in MLB this past offseason. I was surprised to see this column on this site. Maury Brown, who is de facto Bizofbaseball, told USA Today in January that the spending was a " market correction ", that salaries rose 18% during the last CBA. I believe revenues increased 40% during the last CBA.

Another guest column at bizofbaseball, this one written by Diane M. Grassi. This column is extremely critical of MLB's relationship ( or absence of one ) with African Americans. Ms. Grassi details the efforts that MLB makes to develop players in foreign countries and compares them unfavorably with MLB's efforts to develop players in urban African American communities. Ms. Grassi also comments on recent changes in immigration laws that are favorable to MLB. Given the declining numbers of Americans on MLB rosters, 23% of players in 06 were from outside the US, more than double the percentage in 1990, this is increasingly important to the industry. 40% of minor leaguers are from outside the US. Most of the foreign born players are from the Dominican Republic. Ms. Grassi points out that most of the kids from the DR who come to the US to play minor league baseball remain in the US once their visas expire and work illegally, predominantly in NYC.

Coincidentally, I recently purchased the book "Forty Million Dollar Slaves" by NY Times reporter William Rhoden. This book is a condemnation of the exploitation of African American athletes by American professional sports. Should be reading it next week in Mexico.

A link on http://www.thesportseconomist.com/ to a Feb 17 article in the WSJ about the declining demand for luxury boxes across North American pro sports. Different reasons are given. Interesting to note though that with all the talk about RSN's, national tv deals, new media, multiple platforms, licensing etc. that "ticket revenues remain a sizable part of overall revenue, accounting for as much as 65% of overall revenue for some baseball teams. Premium seating, which includes luxury suites and club seats, can make up close to 40% of that."

Also at http://www.thesportseconomist.com/ another link to a WSJ column. This, a book review of Economist J.C. Bradbury's upcoming "The Baseball Economist: The Real Game Exposed". Professor Radbury also has a blog http://www.sabernomics.com/ According to the WSJ review, more baseball orthodoxy is debunked by the math geeks. In particular that "protection" in the batting order is beneficial to a hitter. Professor Bradbury proves that this is a "myth". Well, he understands regression analysis(es) and I am in my basement...

Speaking of regression analysis, this is a link to a good interview with David Laurila. Mr. Laurila is a PHD in biology and is also a sabermetrician, teaching a course "Sabermetrics: The Objective Analysis of Baseball" at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. He has some interesting comments about steroids in baseball, and in particular HGH, he is a PHD in biology. He did remind me that baseball was reluctant to introduce weight training to the sport. I remember back in the day the commentators would talk about how being too too muscle bound detracted from a players all around abilities. As Mr. Laurila points out, this changed in the 80's and 90's.

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